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Doctor Visits Dropped in 2012, reports IMS Health

Update Date: May 10, 2013 01:57 PM EDT

The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics reported earlier today that drug spending declined for the first time in 2012 since 1957. The report stated that patent cliff, which occurs when big name brands' patents over their drugs expire, was one of the biggest reasons for the drop in sales. However, although the report focused on drug spending, another section of the research report found that the rate of doctor office visits also decreased from 2011 to 2012. Even though doctors might have experienced a drop in patients, the research reveals that the decline was very small, and definitely not as large as the decline from the year before.

According to the IMS, the rate of doctor visits from 2011 to 2012 declined 0.9 percent, which was smaller than the decline from 2010 to 2011. Since the decline was smaller this year, the researchers stated that it could be a sign the doctor visits could be rising once again. However, since the decline could be attributed to several factors, the researchers cannot predict for sure that next year's numbers will fare better for the doctors.

The report found that in 2012, nonemergency hospital admissions dropped by 0.5%. In 2011, the decline was 3.2 percent. For the number of outpatient treatment, in 2011, it dropped 0.6 percent and increased by 0.1 percent in 2012. Although the report found a decrease in doctor visits, it did find an increase in emergency department admissions by 5.8 percent.

Aside from this report, other studies recorded other trends related to the healthcare system. In 2011, the amount of U.S. spending on healthcare increased in both private and public sectors by 3.9 percent. Despite this increase, it was still the recorded lowest rate of growth in 52 years, according to a study conducted by the Office of the Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

These numbers give researchers and politicians a general idea of the trends happening in healthcare. The entire report can be found here

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